Tag: Open Comms

RECOGNISING THE IMPORTANCE OF FACE TO FACE COMMUNICATION

One lesson I’ve learnt from lockdown is the importance of face to face communication. Not only has this been something I’ve missed from my personal life, it’s something I’ve missed from a professional perspective too.

With ever increasing opportunities for virtual engagement it’s easy to see how we could move away from face to face meetings for good. As we move towards our new normal, it’s got me thinking if there really is a need to travel long distances for meetings and spend every day in the office.

While many have suggested the traditional office formalities are near extinct, I’ve begun to appreciate the need for personal interactions and believe they are invaluable in the PR world.

Colleague relationships

In the first few weeks of lockdown, I found myself missing the office banter and the endless rounds of tea delivered to my desk. Now, I find myself longing for a team meeting where we can get together in person and discuss our actions without a sound delay or speaking over others.

In PR our working relationships are important and there is nothing like getting together to brainstorm ideas for a campaign. We work best when we can bounce off each other and share our creativity. It also means we can suggest the wildest stunts and feed our imaginations.

We can see the excitement in our colleagues faces and make our intentions are clear. People have to be in a room together to really get the best ideas flowing. This is something that simply can’t be recreated on Microsoft Teams. It’s getting us through lockdown, but I miss the sense of community the weekly office meeting brings.

Client Relationships

At Open Comms we have continued to maintain regular contact with our clients and have been very much business as usual throughout the pandemic, but meeting with our clients face to face has been missed.

We believe taking the time to get to know our clients means we understand their values and allows us to develop stronger business relationships and deliver the desired results. It isn’t always about work; it is about chatting and learning more about the personalities behind the brands we work for.

Seeing someone in person allows you to get to know them quicker and better. It is a way to find out about shared interests and to become more than just a third-party supplier. We always say that we are an extension of our clients’ teams and that is very true. It remains the case in the virtual world, but it isn’t the same.

Emotion

When communicating virtually, the ability to read body language and facial expressions are lost and any emotion is removed. Without these cues we raise the risk of misinterpreting the tone of an email or call.

While other businesses may thrive from a move to virtual communication, I think the value of face to face communication in the PR sector will last for many more years to come.

And as we finally start to see the lockdown restrictions eased, I absolutely can’t wait to reconnect with family, friends, colleagues and clients alike.

If you would like to know more about Open Comms and the services we offer, why not give us a call on 01924 862477 or contact us here.

NEW YEAR, IMPROVED ME?

NEW YEAR, IMPROVED ME?

The arrival of a brand-new year often fills us with immense motivation. And so, from the first day of January, most of us embark on a pretty ambitious journey.

Determined to get fitter, healthier, happier, we create resolutions. Often this is done to eliminate bad habits and establish better ones. Some practical, some slightly unrealistic.

Personally, I like the tradition of creating new year’s resolutions. I think wanting to improve yourself is great. Although self-improvement should be an all year-round quest, I can understand how for many people, a new year almost feels like a blank slate.

A fresh start.

This year, I’m partaking in the hype. While I am not planning on making any elaborate changes, I have decided to take the start of 2020 as an opportunity to begin incorporating better practices into my daily life.

Here are a few things I want to do this year:

  • Spend more time with family and friends
  • Cook more
  • Take more pictures
  • Drink less coffee
  • Stay consistent at the gym
  • Sign up for a charity run
  • Not check my work email on weekends…

Though it may seem that New Year’s resolutions are made to be forgotten, fingers crossed I can follow through with mine!

Whatever your resolutions may be, I hope that 2020 brings everything you’ve hoped for and more!

Happy New Year everyone. 😊

 

BUILDING A SUCCESSFUL BRAND

Every day we count our lucky stars knowing that we work with a host of amazing businesses across diverse industries including automotive, recruitment, digital, food manufacturing, architecture and third sector.

Despite our clients operating in such distinct areas, they all have one thing in common; not only do they know how to build a successful brand, they also understand how to maintain that success.

What’s great is that we get to support these organisations and to celebrate their ongoing achievements.

Establishing values

At the start of any brand journey, it’s vital to sit down and think about the bigger picture.

What inspired you to offer your particular product or service? Is there a passion that drives your organisation forward? What issues are important to your business? Which common traits describe your team?

Only with these points addressed can a business truly live, breathe and begin to present a cohesive approach which effectively communicates the brand and its values.

Identifying a brand ‘voice’

Once a company has pinpointed its underlying values, it’s a good time to begin forming a brand voice.

Brainstorming a collection of words which feel ‘right’ is a useful way to start the process. With a bank of vocabulary in place, this can be used as a basis for press releases, website copy and a social media schedule.

Adopting a style of communication which is unique to your business is a great way to add some personality and to give a point of difference which will allow a brand to stand out from the crowd.

A catchy, concise positioning statement

If you could use only one sentence to explain your business, what would it be?

Taking the time to craft a crisp positioning statement which encompasses all that your organisation delivers will help consumers and other businesses to quickly become familiar with the product or service that you offer.

Hierarchy of messaging

With your overarching statement perfected, what other key messages would you like to share about your company?

Perhaps what sets your offering apart is the fact that it is organic, eco-friendly or addresses a problem which has yet to be solved.

Identifying three or four main points will ensure that future communications are prioritised correctly, focusing on the elements which are most important about your product or service.

Authenticity

In today’s world, consumers are savvier than ever. With access to a company’s website, social platforms and any news articles at the touch of a button, it’s important that a brand remains authentic in its approach.

For instance, it’s no good positioning a business as caring about the planet and then using unsustainable materials within the manufacturing process. With social media and on pack guidelines someone will notice, and it could spell a make or break situation for your organisation.

Instead, an honest and open approach which is in line with brand values, is a sure way to build up consumer trust and loyalty.

Right message, right place, right time

In short, it all comes down to communicating key messages to the right people, in the right places and at the right time.

Getting this process correct is imperative if your organisation is to reach its full potential. Here at Open Comms, our guidance has helped a range of leading businesses to build a successful brand.

We’d love to chat about our recommendations for your organisation. With the right support, you could be joining our award-winning clients and celebrating your achievements throughout 2020. For further information, simply give us a call on 01924 862477 or browse our website to learn more.

CAPITAL JINGLE BELL BALL

Usually my weekends revolve around Netflix. This weekend however was different.

I was given the opportunity to attend the UK’s biggest Christmas Party. Capital FM’s Jingle Bell Ball. And wow, what an experience! The long journey down to London was definitely worth it!

The event took place at the O2 and while the arena was massive, there was not one empty seat in sight. It was completely packed. A sold-out event indeed.

Harry Styles, Rita Ora and Liam Payne were just some of the stars that put on one amazing show. I thoroughly enjoyed all performances, but the highlight of my night had to be Stormzy’s set. His energy was infectious and left no one in their seats. Everyone was up and dancing.

I can see why Capital call it the UK’s biggest Christmas Party – it certainly is!

Another favourite moment of mine was when Harry Styles performed What Makes You Beautiful. Although completely unexpected, it was the sweetest surprise. You see, like every other teenage girl in 2011, I was utterly obsessed with One Direction. So, hearing their first ever song after so many years left me regressing and reminiscing over childhood memories.

While it was only brief, it was wonderful.

Granted that performances are a huge part of Capital’s Jingle Bell Ball, it’s not the singers that make the event so incredible. It’s the fact that the show can be enjoyed with the entire family. Unlike other concerts, the Jingle Bell Ball is for everyone. It’s an opportunity to bring family and friends together regardless of age.

Thank you Capital, for arranging such a phenomenal event.

I will absolutely be attending next year.

If you missed the show, not to worry, you can view all the amazing performances here: https://www.capitalfm.com/events/jingle-bell-ball/all-a-z-live-2019/

P.S This is NOT a sponsored post; I just had the best time!!!

SOCIAL MEDIA VS TRADITIONAL MEDIA: WHAT’S THE STORY?

Social-Media-Marketing-vs-Traditional-Marketing

It’s used by everyone from busy-bodies to businesses, politicians to pet pooches and, as the Guardian recently reported, even GCHQ has gotten in on the act.

The question remains, what is it that makes social media so different to the traditional channels we were once used to, and how can effective management of online communications platforms and apps positively impact upon a company’s bottom line?

For many organisations social media is an essential medium through which to communicate messages, form the level of personality which sets a brand apart from its competitors and provides a way in which relationships are built, and subsequently maintained, with consumers.

Whilst there is, undoubtedly, some crossover between the benefits that social media and traditional channels offer, using a combination of the two approaches will ensure that a brand’s message reaches the widest audience in the most fitting manner.

Round 1: sharing news

In today’s busy world we are surrounded by marketing messages at every turn. Whether it’s a text on a mobile phone, a red light whilst driving or an advertising billboard, each method communicates a message, but in a distinctly different way.

In the same way that these mediums differ, so too does the sharing of news from traditional and social media.

Here are two theoretical examples:

  1. Pet Pooch Apparel secures lucrative contract with leading retailer (alongside an image of the company’s directors outside the business’ headquarters)

vs

  1. It’s been a woofing good day here at Pet Pooch Apparel; with one wag of a fluffy tail we’ve made it rain ‘puppy style’ (insert picture of puppy in raincoat)

Example 1 is the type of headline that you’d see on a typical business news platform. Short, snappy and to the point. This message takes a professional tone, which is in-keeping with the readership of such a site. This type of media coverage raises the profile of a business and its achievements; building credibility by association as a result of appearing on a well-known business platform.

On the other hand, example 2 could feature on ‘Pet Pooch Apparel’s’ social media channels and, as such, takes a far more colloquial tone which communicates the personality of the brand. Featured alongside a link, which allows the reader to go directly to a page that features the product, this version of the same news is likely to attract a different reader and, therefore, should be posted in a way that will appeal to them.

Whilst the focus of a business story is primarily building the credibility of a business, the objective of social media channels is to build a relationship with the people who actually buy the products.

Whilst being on the radar of every large organisation within the region has its benefits, most companies will have competitors just around the corner and this makes the importance of creating a brand which appeals to buyers increasingly important.

The truth is that having a strong brand, personality and tone of voice is often the one thing that sets a business apart during a customer’s decision-making process.

In these examples it’s clear to see how each version of news has a distinct purpose. By shifting the focus of the story from a purely business mindset, to a form more likely to be considered engaging to the everyday social media user, the reach of the story can be broadened to appeal to a much wider audience.

Round 2: engaging with the customer

In what I’d envisage to be a fun and trendy business like ‘Pet Pooch Apparel’, magazines and consumer-focused publications are likely to be a part of any PR strategy.

Achieving coverage in this type of media would be the best way to raise the profile of the business amongst potential customers, whilst building the familiarity and trust necessary to achieve repeat sales and encourage loyalty.

However, though companies can submit a press release which is full of personality and is reflective of the brand’s values, this messaging is often significantly diluted when it finally finds its way into a publication.

As a result, relying entirely on media coverage from magazines to communicate with your customers and build your brand is a steady process which does not happen overnight. Instead, through a long-term strategy which targets the relevant magazines at the most appropriate times it will deliver results.

Yet, combine this approach with a stream of interesting, insightful blogs and quirky social media posts, and the whole process becomes much less sporadic and a lot more likely to yield quicker results.

Increasing the comments, likes and excitement surrounding your latest post, is a sure-fire way to gain fans and, with new followers, comes a wider audience with which to share your new products, services and offers.

On the other hand, we must consider that with a busy social media channel comes a certain amount of maintenance. With the ‘always on’ appeal of online apps, comes the potential for a large number of comments which shoppers increasingly expect will be replied to. This gives additional opportunity to stay ‘on brand’ by responding in a light-hearted manner but also takes a great deal of time and effort.

For example:

Question – Which accessories would you recommend for a Yorkshire terrier?

Possible response – Trendy or traditional, we’re sure that your terrier would appreciate this tweed flat cap! With his Yorkshire roots, we know he’ll feel right at home. Don’t forget to let us know what he thinks 😉

Round 3: the thrill of the chase

There’s no denying that coverage in the newspaper, a magazine or on a prestigious online platform feels infinitely more rewarding than simply posting on a company blog or social media channel.

Moreover, the uncertainty that accompanies the process of pitching a story to a publication and then waiting to see whether it appears, enhances the feeling of excitement when you do secure that much awaited coverage.

Once you’ve secured a story that even your mum would be proud of, you’ll most likely want to shout it from the rooftops! Well, once again, this is where social comes in and can be used as a platform to maximise your message and audience reach.

Round 4: consistency is key

It’s not always possible to rely on editorial coverage, for example your story may get bumped by a huge national crisis, and that is why a business should use its own channels to post the message to its audience and upload the news that they have to share.

Though it won’t happen overnight, regular posts and insights, consistent messaging and well managed, interesting content is the key to increasing brand awareness and, if your social media channels become a hit with customers, the chances are that your products will too.

In summary, working in PR and content marketing it is clear that both traditional media and social channels are complementary and can be used to create brand trust and loyalty for a business. If you’d like advice on how to maximise your own social media channels, would like assistance creating original content, or would like to speak to us regarding a PR strategy, please contact a member of our team on 01924 862477.

Why PR is about more than ‘fannying around with the press releases’

The Devil Wear’s Prada and Bridget Jones’ Diary didn’t really do a great deal to raise the profile of the PR industry but I have to admit that the stereotype that comes with this job isn’t entirely unwarranted, so I would just like to set the record straight.

Not all PR people giggle in high pitched tones and understand this seasons fashion, we don’t all totter on high heels and we don’t all wear perfume that is too strong and lingers after we have left bright stains of lippy or your cheek – post air kiss ‘darling’.

There are some of us who work in PR because we want to plan campaigns with interesting and exciting brands that ‘nail it’ and attract media attention, which in turn raises the profile of the business and encourages consumers to buy their products and services.

Yes people, this is exactly what floats my boat. Since day one securing good quality coverage has made me go all warm and fuzzy inside. Knowing that a campaign you are working on will be shared nationally and possibly even internationally sets butterflies a-fluttering – it’s what we do and it’s what we love.

PR isn’t just about writing or media relations it’s also about understanding the brands and businesses you work with and that is why every morning we read the papers. We’re not taking time out or having a leisurely start to the day, we’re working. It’s important that we know what’s going on so that we can work with the media agenda and react accordingly, whether that is by statement, comment or by building on a strategy.

We live in a very different world to when I started in PR and in some instances it’s easier – you can find out what is going on using RSS feeds, google alerts, twitter or web searches, you don’t have to run to the shops to buy the nationals – just log on!

Some of the best coverage I have secured has come about as the result of piggybacking on the media agenda, using it to the advantage of the brands and businesses we work with. It’s not difficult but it does take time and also understanding – you have to know what you are looking for.

PR as a specialism has evolved so much over recent years it’s difficult not to get excited by it. Content is one of the most valuable tools available to a brand and that’s what we do – we create content that can be distributed to the media, shared online or used as a policy, comment piece, brochure, blog, website, leaflet… content is valuable, it’s strong and it delivers.

Just some of the services we offer as an agency at Open Communications are as follows:

–          Press office

–          Blogger engagement

–          Content management (social media)

–          Copy writing

–          Campaign planning

–          Communications strategy sessions

–          Crisis management

The list goes on but it gives you the general idea.

It’s all about reputation when you work in PR and that means your own, as well as your clients. It’s important to be personable and approachable – that doesn’t mean air kissing clients at every opportunity, it means working with them and being knowledgeable about their business so that you can give them recommendations they know will deliver results. We are PR experts and it’s our expertise that sets us apart, it’s what our clients pay for.

I am very proud of Open Communications and of the campaigns that we deliver for the many brands we work with. I don’t always agree with the PR industry and the image it portrays but I hope that through this blog, you get a little insight into what it really means to work in PR and that there are some of us who simply want to do a job and do it well.

Now, where did I put that press release!

Is there any sensitivity when it comes to social media?

As a PR agency we build social media strategies for our clients, which, in the simplest sense, allow them to engage with an online audience. More importantly, using these tools, we are able to gleam some idea of the sentiment a collective audience has towards a brand and business.

At an event recently social media tools, including twitter, were referenced as the world’s largest and most quickly evolving search engine – an interesting suggestion and one that I am beginning to agree with more and more.

Opinion and online interaction has never been such an integral part of the communications process, which we are all starting to build into our daily lives. Something happens and the first thing that people will do is tweet about it or take an image and share it with their network of contacts online.

I was surprised recently to watch a programme, similar to Police Camera Action, which focused on a car chase and subsequent crash, which seriously injured the driver and passenger. As if this situation wasn’t disturbing enough, with two young people hurt and needing help, the team of police and paramedics weren’t able to dedicate all of their attention to the needs of those that really required it as they were faced with a ‘paparazzi’ of phone users – a crowd of people taking images and videos.

Now I’m all for sharing interesting and relevant information, but a car chase and those injured – come on! Does anyone really need to see that and does having an iPhone really make you a journalist?

When something in the world happens, the press often now request footage from the scene and I can see how life changing events would be of interest but I think we all need to take a step back and determine what is and is not ethically appropriate to share.

I hadn’t really considered the implications of people’s desire to share before but I have to admit that I am now thinking that people have lost all sensitivity when it comes to social media. I always say to clients and the team her at Open Comms that if you wouldn’t stand in a pub and make a comment then you shouldn’t tweet it. Just as importantly if you are going to share someone else’s comment or opinion by retweeting or liking their status make sure you have the facts first – do not regret your actions later.

In many businesses now there is a code of conduct specific to social media, and I think that this should be considered by individuals too. There should be six simple steps to social media:

  1. If you won’t share a comment or opinion with a stranger, then don’t share it socially with the world
  2. Think before you tweet / share, these seconds could make all the difference
  3. Consider what value your comment will add – is it likely to cause unnecessary offence or emotional hurt to another
  4. If you are going to like / retweet or share content from others,  take the time to read it properly first – be aware of what you are putting your name against
  5. With so many social platforms available make sure that you are using them correctly – privacy settings are there for a reason, so use them
  6. Be sensitive, consider why you are filming or photographing something. If your actions mean that a person will die or come to extreme harm because a paramedic is unable to do their job properly, is that content ever going to be worth your conscience.

These are just my thoughts but I’m sure that others will have their own to add. I don’t propose that social as a medium is regulated or ‘policed’, I would like to think that people were intelligent enough to make their own informed decisions but perhaps I’m wrong.

An insight into the team at Open Comms

Right, so we always say that we aren’t your typical PR agency and we also advise that brands consider injecting some personality into their comms – after all it’s the one thing that can’t be replicated by competitors. We therefore felt it would be a good idea to follow our own advice.

We asked our new(ish) recruit Tarina some questions to give you a little insight into what makes her tick. We will update tomorrow with the same questions from Naomi, our most recent team member – so make sure you come back to hear more from the team here at Open.

How would you describe yourself in three words

Ughh, I’ve never been good at answering this question, but going on what I’ve been told by family and friends, I suppose it’d be; mellow, sarcastic and fun-loving

What do you most enjoy about working in PR

So far the best thing about it for me has been the variety of tasks that we all have set each day of the week, we were laughing in the office a couple of days ago about how one minute you’ll be finding a lively venue for a kids event, and the next you could be writing a serious article about Chlamydia. It definitely hasn’t been boring.

What is your favourite book

I personally don’t really like reading, I’ve always preferred to listen to music, and I could sit doing nothing for days if I had music to listen to. I’ve grown up going to gigs and festivals as often as possible, and reading was never “my thing” but just recently I’ve downloaded one of these kindle fandangles and I’m currently reading ‘The Rum Diary’

What did you want to be when you grew up

I have no idea. I have a vague memory of imagining myself getting out of a fancy car with a briefcase and some perfect heels. But I don’t suppose that’s an uncommon dream. At one point I wanted to be an architect, but when I realised maths wasn’t my strong point, that hope went out the window.

The most important goal to me is a promise I made to myself at the age of about 10, to visit every continent at least once before I die. So far I’ve managed about 5%.

…one day.

What do you find most challenging about working in PR

I sometimes find it hard to get through the monotonous parts, the reports and basic bits of research, because I’m constantly eager to get on with the fun bits, but if it wasn’t for the research, the fun parts would pretty much be a massive flop, so you’ve just got to keep yourself motivated with the thoughts of that end product I suppose, and once you get there you’ve totally forgotten about it.

If you could be anything else, what would it be (career wise)

A makeup artist. For the last few years I’ve really loved makeup, I’ve spent hours watching tutorials and playing with new products and I do get told a lot that I’m good at creating looks and suiting styles to different people. Before I started in PR I was aiming towards a professional makeup qualification in the hopes of becoming self employed. I think I’ll still end up doing it at some point in my own time, maybe not to earn any money, just because I enjoy it.

If you had a super power what would it be

I would read peoples minds. I think it’d be possible to do anything if you could read minds (well….except fly……but there’s planes for that), and you’d know who exactly was worth your time.

What is your guilty secret (food / TV programmes)

Jeremy Kyle!  I’m sorry to say I miss it so much now I’m here full time, me and my closest friend Danielle are always getting laughed at because we’ll sit and text eachother about the people on it….while were both watching it, and we’ve applied for tickets to sit in the audience. It’s fairly embarrassing, but hey ho!

What are you most proud of

I was just about to say “the fact I haven’t eaten any chocolate today”, until I realised I’ve just finished off a Boost bar.

Which account would you most like to work on if you could choose

There are so many.

As you’ll probably see in one of my other Blogs, I’d love to work with a charity that provides support and developments for developing countries. I have so many ideas for these types of campaigns and I think it would be amazingly rewarding to see I had contributed to changing peoples lives.

Next up would probably be something along the lines of music events, promotions or venues. I was really hoping to get into events management at one stage in my life, and I love that PR gives the opportunity to attend some of the events that you help put together. Being in a venue with a crowd of other people all feeling good vibes from music is just about the best place in the world, and I’d be ever grateful if I had the chance to introduce people to that.

I’d also love to be a part in some makeup campaigns or promotions. My favourite brand is Urban Decay; I love everything about it and have too many times raided my purse to get my hands on products they make. So I suppose they’d be another dream account.

Naomi supports growth at Open Comms

We have some exciting news to share with you all – here at Open Communications, the straight talking PR agency based at Nostell Priory Estate Yard, we have strengthened our growing team with the appointment of Naomi Stafford as PR Account Manager.

With experience as a journalist having written articles, blogs and press features for some of the UK’s leading consumer magazines, as well as managing accounts at a previous agency, Naomi is already proving herself to be an asset to the team.

Taking responsibility for the development of press office schedules, creative plans, campaigns and social media strategies, Naomi will be a key point of contact and will help us to meet with the objectives of our ever expanding client base.

When asked about her appointment Naomi said: “I’m delighted to be a part of a growing agency. Having built up my experience within journalism and PR, I’m now eager to develop my skills even further, working across a broad range of accounts.  Since joining Open Comms I’ve been made to feel like one of the team and I very much look forward to working more closely with an extensive and increasing list of clients in the near future.”

As Naomi has already proven herself to be an asset to the Open team, we know that she will be welcomed by our clients and we are looking forward to sharing her skills, ideas and enthusiasm with the current brands we work with, as well as prospects, over the coming months. Please do say hello if you are passing, tweeting, phoning or just generally getting in touch.